I spent a long weekend camping with my family at one of our favorite spots, Pilot Mountain State Park. We love spending time in this special place, and we hike there year-round.
We went to the summit one evening just before sunset and I couldn’t resist shooting a short video to share this landscape with you. The first views above are from that evening, looking toward Winston-Salem and then the Blue Ridge.
The second view is from one of our hikes in the morning, of Hanging Rock and Sauratown Mountain toward east of Winston-Salem. One of the unique aspects of this spot is that as you do different hikes in the park, you’ll have the chance to see 360 degrees of landscape from Pilot Mountain. Since the mountain’s rocky formation juts out of the surrounding hills, it’s not surprising that it was used as a navigational landmark and was called Jomeokee or “great guide” by the area’s first inhabitants.
My family and I often have interesting conversations as we walk. One of the ideas that came up was the meaning of the words grit and resilience. My husband took the position that they are one and the same. I argued they aren’t, but that there is overlap and that the two qualities can go hand in hand. In the last year since the pandemic hit, I’ve been thinking of resilience a lot. I didn’t realize it until relatively recently, and it feels like an important quality to cultivate now. Anyway, my brother, being the rational person he is, recommended we simply look up the definitions. So here they are from my good old American Heritage College Dictionary:
*grit: indomitable spirit; pluck
resilience: the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy
I often feel gratitude to have such beautiful places just a short drive away from home. Spending time at Pilot Mountain walking and looking and listening fills me with contentment and with inspiration for my work. Now it’s back to the studio!
Find some paintings inspired by my time at Pilot Mountain here and bring some peaceful energy of the outdoors into your space.
*I like the way Angela Duckworth talks about grit in her aptly named book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. You can watch her TED talk here.
Last night I read an article in the *New York Times Style Magazine about terroir. It describes a vintner in Cleveland who planted vines in an abandoned city block to make his wines. It also features a baker who put out sourdough starter in various spots in New York City so that each one would pick up flavors from its environment. (Note this was pre-COVID times.)
If you’re interested in wine, you might know terroir as a French word used to describe the environment in which a particular wine’s grapes are grown. The makeup of the soil, altitude, sunlight and rain, all of these factors influence the flavor of a wine. This got me thinking about how I could apply the concept of terroir to portrait painting.
Last week, I made a painting of my husband Tim while he napped in my studio. I’ve drawn him many many times, but over the course of 16 years together, I hadn’t painted him yet. I purposefully included the studio space, tools, a cool chair and bright blanket around him. All these elements were fun to paint and gave me an excuse to play with line and colors. And all of these elements around Tim contribute to how his finished portrait turned out. All the elements in the space around him are a sort of terroir for this portrait.
Making that painting reminded me of how much I love painting people, so I decided to launch portraits this week.
I’d love to make paintings of people in either indoor or outdoor spaces… with things that bring them joy… a bike… some books… plants… musical instruments perhaps…
You’ll notice I’ve included my painting of two dog buddies on a mountain top because our fur babies make great portrait companions!
I currently have some beautiful birch wood panels I’ve been preparing, and these will be ready this week to start making paintings. They are 24×18 inches with 1.5″ edge (painted white), and will come wired and ready to install on your wall. A portrait of this size is priced at $2300 for 1-2 people (or pets!), and I’m happy to work in other sizes and with larger groups as well.
Check out my custom artwork page for details on how the commission process works, or email me if you’re ready to get started. I look forward to making your portrait!
This morning I went exploring in the neighborhood with my son. We walked through a stream and through bramble and over fallen trees and on a hillside of kudzu… we found animal tracks and bones and all sorts of adventurous stuff. We also found beautiful flowering weeds!
I always get excited in that transition from winter to spring, when the dandelion, violets, clover, and nettle and all sorts of tiny tender leaves and flowers start to appear. I picked one of my favorite (it was in a spot filled with many others), some purple dead nettle, so I could make a drawing.
I thought you might like to see the process and maybe even join along. So here we go back in the studio…
In case you do want to join me, I’m using pencil, Pigma micron ink pen, watercolor and a 140lb watercolor paper.
A couple weeks ago, I pulled the plug on running. I’ve been nursing hamstring and hip injuries for the last couple of years, and figured the smart move would be to stop running and to walk instead. So last week I resumed my daily morning walks.
Before getting back into running a few years ago, I used to walk every morning. First it was to walk my son to preschool, and I loved sharing that time with him: walking slowly, talking to neighborhood cats, picking up tiny sticks and stones and plants to collect. When he got older and went to elementary school, I’d walk after dropping him off.
I’d look at the patterns of tree branches, and the colors of leaves and the shapes and colors of shadows on the grass.
After a week of returning to daily morning walks, I realize that during my runs, I don’t engage with my environment in the same way. When I’m running, my mind goes straight to my thoughts or to how my body feels. Whether on the road or trails, I’m paying attention to my environment, but it’s to make sure that I’m not going to get hit by a car or trip on a rock.
When I’m running I’m not looking at the landscape with my painter brain.
I’ll give you an example of how I look when I’m walking. Yesterday on my walk, I noticed the dark shape of the trees behind a meadow, the large expansive green shapes of those meadows, and the way the sky cut into the tree line.
This morning on my walk, I noticed patterns in trees: the v-shape notches between branches and the shapes of the trees before they transition to sky. I also took the time to photograph piles of branches (my current obsession) and to root through them for sticks that might spark my imagination in the studio. Who knows? Those piles of branches might be the jumping off point for a series of drawings or paintings.
So I’m enjoying my walks right now. I’m relishing moving more slowly through space and observing all the changes happening as winter transitions to spring.
Above, you’ll notice my paintings Go easy and Pilot Mountain 3. Going easy sums up this shift to walking from running, and the Pilot Mountain series is inspired by my family’s favorite hiking spot. Find them both in my shop.
It’s a busy time here, and because what artists do all day seems like a bit of a mystery, I thought I’d invite you to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
I’ve been creating a new course for artists called the Four Foundations for a Thriving Art Practice. My collaborator, the Seattle artist Sarah Guthrie and I conceived of this 5-week class to help artists build sustainable, fulfilling art practices, and there is no other course exactly like this one out there. I’m really proud of this work because I know it can make a difference in a lot of artists’ lives. The course launches on February 23rd.
Last week, I had an excellent conversation with Sonya Pfeiffer, director of Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, about the thought process behind the work in my exhibit, Hold us in the light. You can watch our chat here on my blog. View the works and shop the exhibition here.
For the last year, I’ve had an installation/video project I’ve been thinking about (something on the scale of Paper Mountain) and I finally got the ball rolling. The project is inspired by the effects of flood waters, and I am currently in the early prototyping phase and working on grant proposals for funding. Given the scale of the project, I’m probably a couple of years out on exhibiting this, so stay tuned!
I’ve also been continuing to develop my painting and drawing skills by working from life and refining my knowledge of color by doing color studies. In retrospect, it seems that’s what I typically do in the winter and in between larger projects.
I have a favor to ask. If you know anyone who would be interested, would you forward this post to them or let them know about my work? Or if you feel comfortable, would you forward their email to me and I’ll take it from there? Word of mouth is one of the best way that I connect with new collectors. I really appreciate your support!
Creative Detours: an exhibition of paintings by Jessica Singerman at the Forsyth County Public Library January 1 – March 31, 2021
(January 11, 2021, Winston-Salem, NC) Award-winning painter Jessica Singerman announces her exhibit of paintings entitled CREATIVE DETOURS, opening at the Forsyth County Public Library on January 1 and continuing through March 31, 2021.
In this collection of paintings, viewers will notice that some are more impressionistic and some have more recognizable elements – the work hovers between abstraction and representation. In this way, Singerman explores the way things look (shapes, colors, line, edges, etc…) and the way things feel (hot sunlight, cold wind, the smell of leaves, birdsong, etc…).
Singerman’s work is inspired by the poetry of nature, color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time. Says Singerman, “All of our senses are awakened when we spend time outside. The rhythm of steps while hiking, the whir and clicks on a bike ride, the changing shapes of light and shadow between trees, the sound of birdsong—the memory of all these impacts on my senses feeds into my process of abstraction. I love to explore my experiences in nature through the elements of color, shape, line and composition.”
Viewers may recognize Singerman’s paintings from the billboard featuring her work on Route 52. She was one of the 2020/2021 Triad region ArtPop Street Gallery winners.
About the artist: Jessica Singerman lived alternatively in France and the United States during her early life. Singerman earned her BA with Highest Honors in 2002 from the College of William & Mary, Virginia, and her Masters of Fine Arts in 2004 from the University of Delaware while on a fellowship. Her award-winning paintings and drawings are exhibited and collected internationally. Singerman lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
FORSYTH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, including CREATIVE DETOURS, by Jessica Singerman, January 1 – March 31. 660 W 5th St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, www.forsyth.cc/library/, 336.703.2665
Find this article on YES! Weekly. Thank you to publisher Charles Womack and to YES! Weekly for the write up!
Happy New Year! 2021 is off to a good start… I’ve had a chance to get a couple of rides and runs in, and I’m ready to get this party started.
2020 was my second year of running a small business, and while this had its challenges, it turned out to be a good year for me and my family. Thank you so much for your support during the last year. Thank you for reading my writing, following me on Facebook and Instagram, sending me kind messages, buying my work, and sharing my work with your friends and family… all of it helps keep me motivated and supports my artistic practice. Here are some of the things your support made possible in 2020:
My work was selected to be shown in the Prism small group exhibition at Gallery C3 in Charlotte at the beginning of the year.
I made some wellness videos in the spring. When COVID hit the US and lockdowns started, I wanted to share ways to relax and re-center yourself with yoga, drawing and watercolor.
Since I wasn’t able to teach in person, I created my first online course Little Watercolor Square. I learned a lot about the process and really enjoyed it. Thankfully I ended up doing more online teaching and coaching this year, and that has allowed me to reach more people and help more artists improve their skills and find their voices.
View a virtual walk through of Jessica Singerman’s current Exhibition – Hold Us In the Light at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art. To inquire about the works featured, email [email protected] or visit us during our gallery hours Fridays and Saturdays from 12 – 5p.